An ancient history of greatness; a recent history of tragedy; and the present that is a breadth of culture, charm, and optimism–and all of it with a natural backdrop of unique terrain peppered with its beautiful wildlife.
The definition of “idyllic” is: extremely happy, peaceful, or picturesque. Cambodia is idyllic. And it seems like she was fated to exist.
Many ancient civilizations have come and gone, either by war or by wither. Cambodia “should’ve” followed the same path. Ancient Thai invasions took all they could from the ancient Khmer empire but hadn’t the reach to wipe them out. In the 1800s, the Thai and Vietnamese were sandwiching the Khmer people to annihilation. But then France came in, and though they dominated the Cambodians themselves, their form of dominance didn’t seek to eliminate them. Decades later, when they were independent, it was actually their own leaders who put Cambodia on the brink. But n 1979, Vietnam ousted them. Finally today, Cambodia has strengthened with the help of the latest version of outside leadership: the U.N.
One could argue Cambodia is pretty lucky to still be around. Perhaps it’s fate. Perhaps Cambodia’s survival is a statement of the Khmer character. I’d also like to think it’s a statement about the progress of humanity, now working to retain a culture. If so, Cambodia–and the Khmer language, music, traditions, customs, cuisine, and more–is our gift.
It may be a single culture, but don’t mistake that for lack of variety or individuality.
The gift comes in many forms. Let’s look back at the faces of Cambodia:
My 12 days in Cambodia had me reflect, “Gee, if one can get so much from a relatively small place in such a short amount of time, what does this say about the rich offerings before each and every one of us wherever we are?”
That is the magic of travel: a fresh take on life when your environment is reset to the surroundings of your destination.
Thank you for traveling Cambodia with me.